By Mafugi Ceesay
Father Emile Sambou, Vicar General of the Christian Council has called on the Gambian authorities to do something to protect Christian cemeteries and praying grounds that are being gradually encroached upon at various places.
Speaking in a Standard interview recently, Father Sambou said they have written many letters to various authorities including the Ministry of Lands, the department of Physical Planning and the office of the IGP, drawing their attention to the wide spread encroachment on Christian cemeteries in Brikama-Ba, Kunkujang Mariama among others .
“As I am talking to you now these issues have not been addressed by any of the authorities we have contacted,” he said.
According to Father Sambou, their leased land that has been used for over 33 years as a praying ground in Kunkujang Mariama has been occupied by someone who came from nowhere and started digging a foundation. He said this matter too has been reported to the police, Lands ministry and physical planning but it is yet to be addressed.
“How long can we remain silent over these matters? Every Christian praying yard or cemetery in this country is being encroached upon. If you go to the Christian cemetery in Sukuta, it used to be big but now even my office is bigger than it,” Father Sambou stated.
“Even our cemetery at Jeshwang is being encroached upon. In Kotu our cemetery is being used as garden by women who are digging up bones. I went there myself and I wrote to the then Mayor Yankuba Colley and personally went to Kotu Police three to four times and nothing came out of it,” the Vicar General lamented.
“We have a cemetery between Brikamaba and Saruja, which is big land, but it too is being encroached upon. Imagine if it were Christians encroaching on Muslim cemeteries, would our heads be on our necks by now?
“I hope the current minister of lands dig into his files and allow justice to be done.”
The Standard contacted police PRO Superintendent David Kujabi who said his findings have so far not yet revealed any complaint case the Vicar was referring but promised to furnish us with anything that came up on the matter.